WHILE El-Hadji Diouf was held up as some sort of role model, Ian Holloway was admitting his team are paying the price for being bad divers.
No, football has not finally gone completely, irretrievably, crazy – there was some sense to it all during a wonderful game at Bloomfield Road. Holloway was really lamenting the softness of the Premier League, with Sam Allardyce once again pleased to see Diouf, who had irritated the Blackpool manager, making the most of the rules.
Last week he was charging Mark Schwarzer in Blackburn’s 1-1 draw with Fulham – that job was left to team-mate Nikola Kalinic after last weekend’s fall-out – but this time, it was dropping to the floor after going shoulder to shoulder with the smallest man on the field, David Vaughan.
In these short weeks, Blackpool have certainly shown themselves to be competitive at this level and although Holloway rejected suggestions of naivety in chasing a winner only to end up losing, he feels his players are wet behind the ears in a lot of other respects.
Holloway’s fury culminated in heated exchanges with referee Mike Dean, which the Blackpool manager expects to result in a charge from the Football Association.
He may be wasting his time by highlighting how little contact is required to earn a free kick at this level but he also feels his players are not capable of taking advantage of that.
“I’m looking at Michel Salgado in his own box, twice, down he went but nobody touched him,” Holloway said. “He made it look like something. He was laughing at me, smiling, telling me to shut up. It’s wrong isn’t it?
“I’m not going to shut up when I think I’m right. Charlie Adam went down and I thought ‘Oh my god what are you doing?’ and he got a free kick! He was diving on the floor at the end and he doesn’t even know how to. We aren’t going to be very good at it, we’re not very convincing are we?
“In my day, I was a little bloke but I could be strong. If I got knocked off the ball it was a case of ‘Get on the weights, will you son?’ I had to be strong. You haven’t got to be strong out there.”
Holloway claimed he told Dean he was “blooming awful” and cannot wait to respond to any resulting charges but would do well to try to get his players to adapt as well as they can and not give them excuses, as he admitted he did with his formation change at Chelsea last week.
Picking up points against the likes of Blackburn is what will keep Holloway’s side in the Premier League and after Adam’s inexplicable own goal midway through the first half, they did give Allardyce’s side a torrid second period.
Matt Phillips finally equalised with five minutes left but as more bodies flew forward, Blackburn sensed their chance and Brett Emerton scored the winner after a quick breakaway.
Diouf was once again crucial for Blackburn and Allardyce thinks the former Liverpool man has finally turned his life around.
“People will look out for him because he portrays himself in this image with stand-out clothes,” Allardyce said. “He has some of the worst gear you’ve ever seen in your life. You can’t miss him from three miles away with some of the colours. Big chains, big belts, big blond hair.
“He still goes out obviously but I don’t think he’s still flashing around in the big nightclubs around Manchester like he used to. That’s helping his game.
“We’ve spent a lot of time on making sure he tries to get rid of that image he had before.
“He’s never going to lose it, there’s no danger about that. But he hasn’t got himself into any trouble for many a year now.”
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